Sunday, September 7, 2008

World's Richest Got Even Richer Last Year/Justice asked to weigh charges in Utah mine deaths

World's Richest Got Even Richer Last Year: Report By Joseph A. Giannone Reuters September 4, 2008

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The old saying holds true: The rich do get richer.

Even as world financial markets broke down last year, personal wealth around the world grew 5 percent to

$109.5 trillion, according to a global wealth report released on Thursday by Boston Consulting Group.

It was the sixth consecutive year of expanding wealth.

The fastest growth was among households in developing regions, such as China and the Gulf States and among families who were already rich.

That wealth also is increasingly concentrated among the richest.

The top 1 percent of all households owned 35 percent of the world's wealth last year. Meanwhile, the top 0.001 percent, ultra-rich households holding at least $5 million in assets, commanded $21 trillion -- a fifth of the world's wealth.

The planet also continues to mint new millionaires rapidly. The biggest jumps in 2007 came from emerging countries in Asia and Latin America . Overall, the number of millionaire households grew 11 percent to 10.7 million last year.

BCG notes that, while the rich are still rich, they have been making some adjustments as a result of the financial crisis.

This year, assets are being shifted to more conservative investments, more money is being kept onshore in home markets and some individuals have curtailed new investment.

Yet BCG cautioned the outlook for wealth markets and the banks who serve them, is dimmed by the current financial crisis.

North American personal wealth growth slowed to 3.8 percent last year, compared with 9 percent in 2006, reflecting the the mortgage crisis and the onset of the credit crunch last summer.

"The financial crisis continue to cast a pall over established wealth markets," said Victor Aerni, a Zurich based partner who coauthored the report.

BCG, which advises banks and wealth managers, forecasts personal wealth will continue growing, but at a slower pace. This year, with Wall Street suffering through one of its worst slumps in decades, growth in assets is expected to rise less than 1 percent.

Things will improve over the next five years, BCG said, with personal wealth growing more than 3 percent annually -- well off the 8.5 percent set between 2002 and 2007.

Wealth is growing at much faster rates among the rest of the world. Households in Asia, the Pacific Rim excluding Japan and Latin America saw the greatest growth, with wealth rising 14 percent. That growth was fueled by manufacturing in Asia and commodities in Latin America and the Middle East , as well as more currency and political stability.

BCG observed that banks, brokerages and money managers will have little choice, but to expand their presence in these fast growing centers. Dubai and Singapore , the firm said, are becoming regional private banking centers offering greater competition to traditional havens such as Switzerland .

(Editing by Andre Grenon)

Sep 3, 8:42 PM EDT

Charges Sought in Mine Deaths


AP Labor Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal mining officials on Wednesday asked prosecutors to decide whether criminal charges are warranted in the deaths of nine people in last year's collapse of the Crandall Canyon mine in Utah .

The Mine Safety and Health Administration has been investigating two cave-ins in August 2007 at Crandall Canyon that killed six miners and three rescuers. MSHA already has fined Genwal Resources Inc., a subsidiary of Ohio-based Murray Energy Corp., $1.34 million for alleged violations that directly contributed to the deaths of six miners. Agapito Associates Inc., a Grand Junction, Colo., mining engineering consultant, was fined $220,000 for an allegedly faulty analysis of the mine's design. They were the largest fines ever imposed on a U.S. coal mining operation.

Six miners were trapped on Aug. 6 in a cave-in and remain entombed more than 1,500 feet below ground. Three rescuers, including a government mine safety inspector, were killed in a second collapse on Aug. 16 while trying to tunnel to the men.

"Through its investigation of the tragic accidents last year at Crandall Canyon, MSHA determined that the operator and its engineering consultants demonstrated reckless disregard for safety," said Richard E. Stickler, acting assistant secretary of labor for MSHA. "MSHA has referred this case for possible criminal charges."

In a statement, Genwal attorney Kevin Anderson said the development was no surprise, given the "profound bias and factual leaps in MSHA's" report on the mine's collapse. He called Sticker's remarks reckless and without factual basis.

"The facts demonstrate that Genwal Resources Inc. endeavored in good faith to follow safe mining practices and truly believed the mine was safe," Anderson said. "We look forward to the opportunity to present the facts of this matter to the U.S. attorney's office, confident that Genwal Resources will be exonerated in any fair review of this tragedy."

The U.S. attorney in Utah has requested that the Labor Department, which oversees MSHA, halt its civil proceedings dealing with Crandall Canyon until its investigation is complete, officials said. A judge with the federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission - which handles all MSHA citations, fines and cases - has yet to rule on the request.

MSHA has said the mine was "destined to fail" because the mining company made critical miscalculations and didn't report early warning signs. MSHA itself also was faulted by its parent agency, both for lax oversight before the collapse and for its handling of the fatal rescue effort.

Murray Energy chief Bob Murray has insisted that the type of mining taking place at Crandall Canyon had nothing to do with the collapse. He argued from the start that it was caused by an earthquake.

Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., the chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, also made a criminal referral in May to the Justice Department on the Crandall Canyon disaster.

Melodie Rydalch, spokeswoman for Utah's U.S. attorney, Brett Tolman, said late Wednesday that information from both Miller's committee and MSHA's report on the twin collapses will factor into decisions about possible criminal prosecution.

UtahAmerican Energy Inc., a subsidiary of Murray Energy, owns the mine.


Associated Press writer Jennifer Dobner in Salt Lake City contributed to this report.

© 2008 The Associated Press.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center , 325 E. 25th St. , Baltimore , MD 21218 . Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at]

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

No comments: